In 279 BC, King Pyrrhus of Epirus defeated the Romans in battle at Asculum. The cost of the victory was the near-complete destruction of his army in the battle. The famous quote “Another such victory … and we are undone” comes from the historic record of that battle. The quote and the battle serve as the source of the term “Pyrrhic victory.”

What is the price of victory, if it kills you to win? Would victory taste as sweet if it were an empty trophy, the spoils of war long since evaporated and the war itself based on a lie and sustained by a continuing series of self-perpetuating coverups?

We are at a crossroads now, where the facts behind the justification of the Iraq invasion emerge while the lies conceived to hide these truths become self-evident. GOP leaders lied to start an illegal war, and continue to lie about the status of the situation as a matter of course. It’s a cataclysmic failure of policy, and a catastrophic success of spin and propaganda. Iraq is but one of the ongoing disasters that denote the historic failures and pyrrhic victories of “Commander-in-Chief” George W. Bush.
Prior to his ascendance to the Presidency of the United States, George W. Bush failed and mismanaged several business ventures.  Ranging from the oil company that couldn’t find oil in Texas to owning a baseball team that seemed like a good idea (to him) at the time, he’s played the role of an anti-Midas: he doesn’t turn the things he touches into gold, he turns them to a rotted, dessicated corpse or attaches a strong odor of malfeasance to them (the odor smells much like sulfur, I’m told, and sometimes rotten eggs).

The GOP spin machine proffers George as the “MBA President” as if his business experience qualifies him to run a nation. What we see, however, is a two-fold con job: bait and switch, and blatantly false advertising. A genuine look at George’s history and managerial acumen shows us that he is, unfortunately, performing exactly as should be expected. He is failing, spectacularly, and destroying the “business” that he has taken control of. The ever-changing rhetoric to spin the performance of George and his Administration has lost the capability to ensnare most Americans, now. The luster is off, and won’t be returning anytime soon.

One might say that George’s presidency has been a catastrophic success of sorts.

I wouldn’t tie that term to him, or the GOP, too tightly. Not without adding a few others, at least. My favorite — the topic of this essay — is, of course, “pyrrhic victory.” George emerges unscathed and victorious (sort of) from everything he’s destroyed. He’s hoping to rescue the legacy of his presidency from the stain of Iraq on his blue burka of success by spinning us into a surge that could temporarily quell the most notable points of the insurgency long enough to get us out of his Middle East miasma. He’s planning to increase our military’s size to alleviate the stress and strain on the troops, although where he’ll get the recruits and replacement equipment remains to be seen.

While he’s working on hiding that unsightly stain, he’s failing (again) to realize that other disasters are still showing from beneath the GOP veil of incompetent oversight and failed accountability. Let’s detail a few, shall we?

On the homefront, Katrina and Rita victims on the Gulf coast comprise perhaps the most damning stain upon the fabric of George’s legacy. Alongside that brilliant, toxic and soggy stain are the direct Constitutional affronts: the illegal wiretapping, the program of secret rendition and imprisonment, the suspension of habeas corpus, the torture program.

With regard to how history will look back upon the George Bush presidency, consider the following quote:

Tout est perdu, madame, fors l’honneur
‘All is lost, but honor’

   — Francois I. is said to have written to his mother, after the Battle of Pavia in 1525

“All is lost, but honor.” I humbly submit that the ongoing, habitual and intentional deception of the Bush Administration and their cronies in Congress, the Pentagon and Department of Justice has already lost the opportunity to save any honor, regardless of the level of spin applied to it.

But, my fellow Americans, what of our honor, as a nation and her people? Have we the opportunity and the wherewithal to rescue any last shred of decency and honor from the disastrous policies of this Administration? Are we actively engaging and helping to focus our newly-elected Democratic Congress to protect and preserve our Constitution, our heritage, our integrity and our nation?

The Presidency of George W. Bush is a failure of America and American values. We the People fell asleep at the switch; not enough of us remained awake to counter the coalescing clumps of false honor and hypocrisy that led us down this dark path. Think about this for a moment:

No failure in America, whether of love or money, is ever simple; it is always a kind of betrayal, of a mass of shadowy, shared hopes.

   — Greil Marcus (b. 1945), U.S. rock journalist. “Robert Johnson,” Mystery Train (1976).

This is a failure that we have the responsibility to learn from. The lessons that the GOP has traditionally learned from such failures appear, to me, to try and hide their actions better and suspend accountability for anything that could interrupt their goals. This Administration is no different — classify everything and hope that nothing leaks unless it can help them defeat their enemies. But “their enemies” are, unfortunately, not “enemies of the state.” Their sworn enemies are other Americans. We are their enemies. The Constitution is their enemy. Freedom of speech is their enemy.

Iraq and the “Global War on Terror” (GWoT) are just chessboards in their ill-conceived game of bughouse chess. They appoint cronies to positions of power to establish the presence of fairy chess pieces capable of helping them hide in plain site, moving inexorably toward their goals and “win” their game. They don’t appear to mind the intermingling of chess pieces with those won by the opponent, as long as their game progresses.  Need an example? Here’s something I posted to the recent FP post by Devilstower, “One of these things…“:

Private US Team Linked to Jail Escape” tells how a Sunni minister, with known and admitted ties to the insurgency, was broken out of jail and fled Baghdad by a US security team of contractors that he hired.

[hat tip to pmeldrum for the article]

The countdown clock is ticking toward the end of 2006, and the end of the GOP mismanagement of our nation. Further off in the distance, the end of the George W. Bush Presidency draws ever closer, and our window of opportunity to mitigate the disaster that is Bush before we are drawn into an even worse quagmire is also closing.

Call it what for it is: a failure. A failed Presidency, a failed policy, a failed ideology, and a failure of conservative “governing.” It’s well past time to start standing up, owning up and cleaning up this mess. Notify any GOP representative or neoconservative pundit that continued denial of reality or attempts to spin and obscure the facts constitute complicity and makes them a direct accessory to this failed criminal enterprise. Promise them that you will push the Democratic Congress for true and complete oversight and the accountability that comes with that.

We must see this through to the very bitter, painful end or we’ll never heal our nation. There is no true compromise to accountability and justice. Rewarding failure through pardons is, itself, unpardonable.

It’s time to face the nation like adults, and with the accountability of adults.

Crossposted to DailyKos, ePluribus Media, BooMan Tribune, My Left Wing, Never In Our Names, Progressive Historians and The Impeach Project.